Cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can move from one part of the body to another. They undergo dramatic shifts in shape when they do so, said Aaron DeWard, an MSU cell and molecular biology doctoral candidate who published his research recently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. He’s trying to figure out how certain proteins trigger cell movement and division and how cancer hijacks the system to create genomic instability.
DeWard and his academic adviser, VARI senior scientific investigator Art Alberts, investigated proteins called formins that help determine the shape of a cell during division and movement. They identified a new mechanism for regulation of formins during cell division.
“One of the cool things about these proteins is that they’re tightly regulated – they will only do their jobs when they’re told to do so,” DeWard said, describing formins as the workers that put together the pieces that shape a cell.
“A lot of work has been done on how to get these proteins to work, but not when to stop working,” he said. “We identified the way in which these proteins get flagged for destruction. This mechanism is pretty common for a lot of proteins, but had never been shown for this family of proteins before, and no one really knew how to shut them off completely.”
The family of proteins DeWard and Alberts are studying could lend themselves well to pharmaceutical treatment, he added.
“Aaron's observation gives us a handle on the molecular machinery controlling cell division,” Alberts said. "Our goal now is to exploit this information in the development of strategies to specifically stop the process of uncontrolled cell division that characterizes cancer."
“I don’t think shutting them off will stop cancer, but by better understanding the mechanism of this we might find ways to manipulate the system,” DeWard said.
The MSU-VARI connection constitutes a vibrant, research-oriented dimension to the university’s growing presence in the western Michigan health care complex. Michigan State opens its new College of Human Medicine building, the Secchia Center, in downtown Grand Rapids near VARI parent Van Andel Institute, Spectrum Health and other health care organizations in 2010. It signed a research collaboration agreement with the VAI in 2006.
“Collaboration is essential to developing West Michigan as a center for life sciences,” said Steve Heacock, VAI chief administrative officer and general counsel. “A solid connection and interaction between students, scientists, medical professionals and the entire life science community is vital. We have a strong collaboration. MSU students work in VAI laboratories, MSU and VAI researchers collaborate on studies and there will be a two-way connection between VAI and the new MSU College of Human Medicine.”
A joint graduate school program allows graduate students in several medicine-related programs to take one of their laboratory “rotations” at VARI, and afterward to complete their thesis project there. Four VARI fellowships also are awarded to MSU first-year graduate students interested in cancer research or cell biology.
Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996, Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent research and educational organization based in Grand Rapids, Mich., dedicated to preserving, enhancing and expanding the frontiers of medical science, and to achieving excellence in education by probing fundamental issues of education and the learning process. VARI, the research arm of VAI, is dedicated to probing the genetic, cellular and molecular origins of cancer, Parkinson and other diseases and working to translate those findings into effective therapies. This is accomplished through the work of over 200 researchers in 18 on-site laboratories, in laboratories in Singapore and Nanjing, and in collaborative partnerships that span the globe.
Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.
Mark Fellows | EurekAlert!
Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo
Research reveals how order first appears in liquid crystals
23.05.2018 | Brown University
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
23.05.2018 | Life Sciences
23.05.2018 | Life Sciences
23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy